Avocados are native to Central and South America and are thought to have grown in these regions since around 8000 BC. They are now cultivated in parts of Asia, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and in the United States, mainly in Florida and California.
This delicious and creamy textured fruit contains a high amount of important vitamins and minerals. These include the vitamins B6, C, E, and K along with potassium, magnesium and fiber. The avocado contains lutein, and monounsaturated fatty acids; it is an effective anti-inflammatory and plays a significant role in the fight against free radicals.
Free radicals are toxic wastes that cause cellular damage. They harm DNA and can give rise to cancer and certain types of cardiovascular disease. They can cause inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Free radicals initiate the breakdown of collagen which is responsible for the skin’s elasticity; therefore, free radicals promote aging of the skin. Avocados contain a significant amount of the substance known as lutein. This is an effective anti-oxidant and therefore helps to combat free radicals.
Because it assists the immune system with the production of antibodies, vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is vital for the protection against numerous diseases. It also plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells, and helps to maintain a healthy nervous system. Each 100g of avocado contains 0.2mg of vitamin B6, approximately 10% of the recommended daily amount.
This water soluble vitamin is essential for the maintenance of overall health. It protects against a myriad of illnesses, and is necessary for the utilization of folic acid. It acts as an anti-oxidant and therefore assists in the fight against free radicals. 8mg of vitamin C is contained in 100g of avocado, and this is in the region of 14% of the required daily intake.
As it instigates enzyme action at a cellular level, vitamin E therefore inhibits the effects of aging of the skin. It assists the body in the utilization of oxygen, helps to protect against varicose veins, and helps to maintain the health of the reproductive system. Vitamin E is an effective anti-inflammatory and also helps to combat free radicals. Each 100g portion of avocado contains 2mg of vitamin E, and this is roughly 20% of the daily requirement.
Vitamin k ensures the proper functioning of a number of processes that pertain to the liver, in particular, that which is responsible for normal blood clotting. 20 mcg of vitamin K is found in a 100g portion of avocado, and this is approximately 7% of the recommended daily intake.
As well as assisting in the regulation of blood sugar levels, fiber has an important role in the control of blood pressure. It helps to prevent heart disease, and protects against the development of some forms of cancer, in particular cancer of the colon. Avocados contain an enormous amount of fiber, each 100g of avocado contains 7g and this is 30% of the recommended daily amount.
An adequate intake of magnesium is essential for the health of the bones, and it also plays a crucial part in the regulation of body temperature. 100g of avocado contains 30mg of magnesium and this is 10% of the daily requirement.
Along with its vital role in the regulation of the body’s water balance, potassium helps to ensure the proper function of nerve impulses. The banana is often thought to be the fruit with the highest amount of potassium content, however the avocado contains more. 100g of banana contains 375mg of potassium, the same amount of avocado contains 485mg and this is 15% of the recommended daily amount.
Avocados are sometimes omitted from the diet because they are believed to contain a high amount of cholesterol. This is a misconception, in truth, what is generally thought of as good and bad cholesterol are, in actual fact, proteins that transport cholesterol within the bloodstream. Cholesterol itself is crucial to overall health. It is the low density lipid carriers known as LDL that is detrimental. Along with other substances LDL can cause plaque to build up in the walls of the blood vessels, and this can give rise to a wide variety of serious conditions. The high density lipids known as HDL carry cholesterol away from the arteries and also remove LDL from existing plaque. Avocados contain a high amount of monounsaturated fatty acids and this reduces LDL but significantly increases levels of HDL. Monounsaturated fatty acids also help to heal stomach and duodenal ulcers. It is for this reason that avocados are an excellent dietary source for those suffering with these conditions.
To ensure the maximum nutritional benefit from the avocados they are best eaten raw. They can be sliced and included in salads and they may be eaten alone as a snack. Once the stone has been removed the central pit can provide a base for a filling, such as prawns with finely chopped cucumber. Tuck a bunch of watercress into the back of the filling to make a tasty and attractive starter.
Avocados can be pureed and eaten as a dip, and they also make a great face pack. Mash the avocado and then smear onto the skin. Leave for approximately ten minutes to allow the vitamins and minerals to penetrate the skin, and then wash it off with warm water. It thoroughly nourishes the skin and gives it an incredibly healthy glow.